Huel for longevity

As someone with a major interest in longevity medicine, I wondered if anybody else would be interested in a high carb (unrefined, low GI), low protein and low fat version of Huel.

Looking at the blue zones (little pockets of the world where health and lifespans are better, lower rates of disease etc) such as the Okinawans, the science really does point to such a macronutrient ratio.

Whilst I know there are many people out there using Huel for a myriad of reasons, where we are surrounded by Hulk-like protein powders (hence Huel Black), to me it seems that there is a huge, huge, huge gap in the market for powdered food / complete meal replacements with the primary aim of optimising metabolic longevity pathways, a field which is rapidly becoming of huge interest to scientists.

I am aware the market will be much smaller for this, and you could argue that Huel itself is already head and shoulders above most foods out there, but to mimic nutrient ratios of the blue zones is otherwise somewhat difficult to do, which presents opportunity.

Thoughts appreciated!

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Which would be that macro ratio?

Far too niche at the moment. Also longevity while being an interesting subject has so many challenges. I am not knowledgeable about the subject, but isn’t much of it to do with insulin resistance?

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I know a bit about this issue, and I can summarize it as this:

In the blue zones, it is not about what they eat, or what the macronutrient ratio is - it is about what they don’t eat.

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Sorry, but I simply don’t agree with the fact that it is not to do with what they eat or what the macronutrient ratio is. Please could you provide some evidence supporting what you’re saying?

Scientific evidence simply works on evidence, what happens both positive and negative. Not what doesn’t happen. Nutrigenomics is becoming an increasingly popular area of research at the moment, demonstrating the efficacy of groups of compounds (polyphenols, stilbenes, carotenoids etc.) in enhancing longevity-promoting metabolic pathways. Exciting stuff.

Whilst it’s not directly comparable to humans, here’s a review for longevity factors in mice: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5087279/

Significant effects on macronutrient ratio on longevity, and I don’t think those mice would otherwise be going to McDonalds.

Meta-analysis in animals demonstrating that protein restriction rather than overall calorie restriction is advantageous in promoting longevity: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22268691/

More: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2815731/

Whilst I appreciate that avoiding specific foods or bad nutritional habits are detrimental to health, please don’t provide a sweeping generalisation that the macronutrient ratio is irrelevant to the extreme longevity exhibited by these populations.

This might be a useful lockdown read for you: https://www.amazon.co.uk/China-Study-Comprehensive-Nutrition-Implications/dp/1932100660

It’s an interesting idea!

I disagree on this and it also depends with longevity if you just mean living longer or living longer without disease (healthspan). Time and time again it’s been shown that diet quality is a big factor (Source 1, Source 2, Source 3)

Protein restriction does appear to play a role in life extension but calorie restriction plays a role too, especially in regards to health span which I’d argue is more important as shown in monkeys (source). Restricting protein may also be detrimental especially in older individuals when sarcopenia (muscle loss) becomes a factor (source). Why would you want to live to 100 if you spend the last 20 years confined to a bed? Such diets also ignore adherence and how much someone enjoys said diet. Again, there’s no point being miserable for the sake of an extra few years, which we will never be entirely sure on because we can’t conduct such studies in humans.

The China Study book is unfortunately riddled with inaccuracies.

There are so many dietary factors that go into determining the lifespan of a person that just the macronutrient ratio on it’s own is not enough and I don’t think it’s as strong as some camps make it out to be. That’s before we get into the rest of a person’s lifestyle such as what they do for work and their personality it’s really complex!

Bringing this back to Huel the purpose of different macronutrient ratio powders is more about offering flexibility and convenience for varying diets. So, on that basis a higher carbohydrate powder could be interesting. In the meantime, adding fine oat flour to Huel v3.0 should do the trick.

Thanks for starting an interesting discussion!

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Hi Dan,

Longevity ≠ lifespan but as you mentioned, is more related to healthspan. Sorry I didn’t make this clearer, I know I did refer to lifespan as well a little bit earlier but the main focus is on healthspan.

You said “I disagree on this” with regards to my comment about macronutrient ratios. Oh, if only science was so simple! Could you please show me some evidence against the ratio I suggested being less optimal than something else? My argument wasn’t anything to do with diet quality, which I totally agree is obviously important, and I appreciate your references in that regard. The macro ratio on its own whilst eating crap clearly won’t do you any good at all!

I’m just yet to see solid evidence against high carb, low protein/fat when we’re considering longevity promoting metabolic pathways, however restricting protein intake as opposed to calorie restriction has proven optimal in multiple species.

You are right in that nutrition is extremely multifactorial, but then the same argument applies for those who use Huel Black for trying to “bulk” after going to the gym. I do appreciate that society has greater interest in that at present though.

Your point about sarcopenia is a good one. It would be interesting to see whether these blue zones have a higher prevalence, and other factors which may be at stake which may overcompensate for the reduced protein, reducing the risk. Maybe. I don’t know.

Either way, it’s now common knowledge and broadly validated that such a macronutrient ratio is optimal for healthspan / longevity promoting metabolic pathways in multiple species and demonstrated in large populations around the world.

No worries, it makes sense!

It’s not that it’s less optimal just that there are ratios that I think are pretty much just as optimal and when you factor in that people will not eat a diet for the rest of their life. If they can’t adhere to a diet then it doesn’t matter how good it is which is a big difference from animal studies. Off the top of my head the Mediterranean diet is a good example but it this doesn’t have to sit in one of the blue zones.

Yes I agree.

Interesting.

Where does the high carb diet fit into preventing dementia and diabetes?

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Very important to ensure we’re looking at just low GI, unrefined carbs, rather difficult in the West, I know!

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So low GI carbs (what’s in Huel) are OK and are exempt from the “carbs are bad” science?

I think our article on Why Carbs Aren’t Bad will clear this up for you.

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Thanks for this discussion. I’m really interested in longevity and I’ve learned a bit more.
If you like, there’s a huge team of scientist working in longevity. I follow them on discord.

I’ve just seen now that they are hosting a virtual conference on august. You can assist for free to some conferences.

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I would be one of those interested. I have read through some of the work by Valter Longo. But I find myself unable to digest the amounts of vegetables he recommends to eat. I don’t know if I would be able to get used to it with time and practice.

On the other hand I am not sure one can safely assume that the macronutrient ratio (including low in sugar, low GI etc.) alone is sufficient for giving the same effects. I doubt fresh vegetables and fruits can be replaced in all their positive effects. There is something more to them, I guess. After all huel IS processed food, even highly processed I think.

There is good and bad processing. Imagine in which band Huel is. Huel is basically 6 ingredients dehydrated + the specific mix to cover the vitamins and minerals that it needs to achieve the recommended daily amounts

I recommend you to read this article.

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There are isolated proteins in it, this is far more than just dehydration. The whole is more than its parts. If putting some parts together to a new combination is enough for helping with healthy aging and longevity is unknown.